Disney’s New Policy and My Spring Break Dilemma

599630_10151104064574866_450922753_nI read in the paper recently that Disney will now require children to be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 14 years old (Los Angeles Time, 3/19/2013) at their Southern California Disneyland parks.


This is going to spoil some plans I had for spring break for my 12-year old daughter Meg.  I was going to dump her and her gaggle of preteen friends for a day (or two.  Or three) at the park at some point during their 3-week spring break.  Yeah, I was counting on Minnie and Mickey being their sitters.  My kids have been going to Disneyland on the Southern California passes since they were babies, and they know the place like the backs of their hands.  Admission isn’t exactly cheap these days, but it’s still better than flying to Hawaii for a vacation like we did last year.

Now, what am I going to do?

Disneyland might be the happiest place on earth, but I can’t imagine my daughter being very happy having her mother hang around her and her friends all day.  No matter how cool I may think I am as a mom, I am one of the dorkiest human beings alive in her adolescent mind.  She certainly wouldn’t want to be seen at Disneyland with this middle-aged lady trailing her, what with my wide-rim hat protecting my skin from age spots, sun glasses attached to Croakies hanging around my neck, and a fanny pack around my waist keeping my hands free to take pictures and dispense hand sanitizers on the ready.

Call me ignorant, but I still believe that Disneyland is one of the safer places on earth.  I wouldn’t send an 8-year old without a parent there nor would I allow my 12-year old to go there alone.  But the place is clean, family-friendly, and there are patrons and workers just about everywhere you go.  When I was her age, I often spent days during school breaks at Disneyland with my 6th- and 7th-grade friends.  It was a right of passage to go there on our own for the first time without a parent.  We’d giggle our way to Tom Sawyer’s island, scream our heads off on the Matterhorn, and order whatever we want to eat at the Carnation parlor.  It was so freeing, but it also made us behave a little more responsibly, a little more maturely.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to send my 14-year old son Josh to chaperone his sister and all of her girlfriends.  If that doesn’t give him a headache, I’m not sure what will.  The only way to bribe him into this torturous assignment would be to pay for one of his friends to keep him company, which will then triple my cost of daycare during spring break.  Then, of course, the boys will want to go on different rides than the girls, and the group will split into two along the gender borderline, defeating the whole purpose of sending these bodyguards with the group of girls.

I would, of course, make it a rule that everyone stays in the group and that they never go to the bathroom alone.  But they’re girls, so that’s pretty much a given.

Yikes — this spring break is getting pricier by the minute.  I wonder if my daughter would like to stay home with me and work on some crossword puzzles instead.  Okay, maybe we’ll go shopping. In either case, my kids are growing up fast and my days of spending rich times with them are going to end sooner than I can imagine.  I should enjoy the precious time I still have to spend lots of quality time with them during this break.  Maybe this is what God is trying to tell me through Disney’s new age limit policy.

I just wonder if my kids have the same desire to spend quality time with me.  Yeah — not so much!

What do you think about the 14-year age limit for unsupervised children attending Disneyland?  Is it fair and right?


School Grades and Letting Go of Parental Expectations

Our children, who are average...but sweet!

Our children, who are average…but sweet!

“I’m sorry to inform you that your child is not yet reading in first grade.  We are going to put him in the remedial reading group until he makes progress.”

We received these devastating words at Josh’s first parent/teacher conference.  We were still under the false notion that we are tiger parents and that our offspring was going to be a genius.  We never expected this assessment from his teacher.  A part of me wanted to go back to the private kindergarten we sent him and ask for a refund.  We paid all that money, and Josh can’t read? Are you kidding me?

Not only was Josh behind in reading, he was also behind in math and science, the two subjects that David and I both loved and excelled in.  Homework took forever each night, and there were lots of tears that year — both Josh’s and mine.  Eventually, Josh did learn to read and began to move along in math, but he always dawdled in the average-grade territory throughout his elementary school career which, to his Asian parents, was frustrating and discouraging.

Not wanting to make the same mistake with our younger child, we sent her to the kindergarten at the neighborhood public school, thinking that they specifically prepared kindergarteners for their first grade curriculum.  Meg ended up with the same first grade teacher whom Josh had two years prior.

And again, we heard the same words at our first conference:

“Meg is not reading either, so we will also put her in the remedial reading program.”

Okay, so maybe it’s not the kindergarten — public or private — that’s the problem.  Could it be with our kids?  Or worse, is the problem with…their mom?

I looked back at both of their preschool days with regret at how I did NOT do flash card exercises with them like I should have.  I let them play all day long, Josh with his cars and trucks, and Meg with her dress up costumes.  Why?  Because I didn’t want my kids to pressure themselves at school as I did!  Well, if I wanted to help them avoid stress, I’m afraid I was way too successful at it.

As the years went on and our kids continued to be “just average,” I began to let go of the grip of my expectations for their academic success.  I decided to just enjoy their respective achievements in music and art, as my future for them went from Ivy League school to a state university to a local junior college in my mind’s eye.  As long as they’re contributing citizens and not serial killers someday, became my new mantra.  We began celebrating all of their achievements, big and small.

In time, our kids slowly began to turn the corner.  They began to show progress in their learning!  Homework didn’t always extend into the wee hours of the night.  And, best of all, their grades began to slowly improve, along with their self-confidence.

Josh was the principle trumpet player in the middle school band, and he is spending his freshman year in the marching band and jazz band.  He is repeating algebra which he nearly failed in 8th grade (Grrr — don’t get me started on this one!), but he is completely acing the class now.  He is even having fun in Latin!  I think high school education suits him more.

And Meg, for the first time ever, got all-A’s on her report card this semester.  We don’t know if it is going to be a regular occurrence for her from now on, but her taste of success just might continue to motivate her.

All this happened when we stopped hovering and fretting and let them just be.  Who knows if this pattern will hold, but I do know that if it does, it will come from them and not me.

I heard that high intelligence kids do well as youngsters and peak early, whereas true geniuses have a slow rise and eventually surpass the regular smart folks.  Could it be that our kids are the latter, and that’s why they had a slow start…

Nah, I’m not gonna go there.